If you’ve been feeling socially awkward lately, don’t worry, you’re not alone. With over a year of social distancing, most of us haven’t been able to exercise our social muscles. This also means that adjusting back to “normal” can come with a lot of anxiety. So, here are a few tips that can help you warm up your social skills and adjust back to socializing with others.
Make some time for small talk.
We know there’s a lot to catch up on, especially after a long absence. But you don’t have to rush to debrief your friends on what’s been happening in your life for the past year. Take time to have casual conversations and interactions. As you’re building back up your social skills, it’s totally fine to start small.
Work on your listening skills.
We’ve all become used to video calls and meetings, which means that “mute” buttons, outside distractions, and absence of body language are the norm. That’s not the case with a face-to-face talk. Break the old habits by doing your best to actively listen to the other person. Don’t let your mind be too focused on what you should say next. Try to let the conversation flow naturally and remember that body language is still a thing!
Don’t be afraid to make eye contact.
Let’s be real, sometimes when we’re talking on video calls, we end up looking at our own screen to make sure everything looks okay. This doesn’t translate well to face-to-face conversations as you can come off as not paying attention. Eye contact is one of those little things that lets a person know that we’re paying attention to what they’re saying. We’re not asking you to gaze into the other person’s eyes, but looking at someone who’s talking to you lets them know you’re listening.
Reflect on the past year and what you’d like to share.
If you’re interacting with someone you haven’t seen in a while, questions like “How have you been?” or “What’s new with you?” are most likely to come up. It can be helpful to think about how you’d answer these questions. So, think about the past year and the main things that you’d like to share about. Maybe you picked up a new hobby or learned a new skill. Maybe you’ve switched jobs or moved to a different city. Focus on some positive things that you could share with anyone that might ask.
Remember we’re all in the same boat.
It doesn’t matter if you’re introverted or extroverted as we’ve all had fewer social interactions than usual for the past year. We’re all working on getting back to normal, and we’re in it together. So, if you’re having a tough time with social settings, remember that you’re not alone! Let’s all do our best to warm up our social skills and help each other out.